Pozzato aiming to win Paris-Roubaix in memory of Ballerini
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pozzato aiming to win Paris-Roubaix in memory of Ballerini

by VeloNation Press at 10:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix
Farnese Vini Selle Italia rider says Italian taught him a lot about race

Filippo PozzatoConfidence regained after his runner-up slot in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen showed that he is back to his best, Filippo Pozzato has said that he is determined to win Paris-Roubaix tomorrow in remembrance of Franco Ballerini.

The former pro won the race in 1995 and 1998, then later worked with Pozzato while in his role as Italian national coach. He was sadly killed in a motor rally accident just over two years ago, but clearly made an impression on the leading Italian contender for tomorrow’s race.

"I’ll race to win and I’ll do so remembering Ballero [Ballerini – ed.]. I’ll have a customized helmet dedicated to him. He taught me very, very much about Sunday’s race and I hope to be strong as he was."

Pozzato finished second in the race three years ago, saying afterwards that he was delayed by Thor Hushovd’s crash and that this could have cost him his chance. Tom Boonen had got clear at that point and while Pozzato got to within a few seconds, he slipped back to finish 47 seconds behind at the line.

The Italian suggested that the tv and camera motorbikes around the Belgian could have helped him in extending his lead, their slipstream making it easier for him than for those chasing behind.

He hasn’t been much of a factor since then, but hopes to turn things around tomorrow. He believes that he will have a clear idea if he is going well by the Forest of Arenberg section, which is a full 85 kilometres from the end.

"The forest is the first defining moment of the race…you understand then if you are in contention or not,” he said. “As regards the rivals, I expect the two biggest to be the same opponents as last Sunday, Ballan and Boonen. They are part of two of the most dangerous teams.

“But there are also some outsiders such as Hushovd and Flecha. Roubaix in particular is a race for just a few riders, but those few are all in form.”

Pozzato’s Classic hopes appeared to be dashed when he crashed in the Tour of Qatar and broke his collarbone, but he insisted on an operation to pin the clavicle, resumed training very soon afterwards and then raced within nine days of the crash.

He appears to have a new urgency and focus, and is determined to make the most of his class before it’s too late. “In recent years I have done everything with the same professionalism, but I hadn't the motivation and the hunger that I have now,” he told VeloNation in a recent interview.

Directeur sportif Luca Scinto is convinced that a big day could be in store. "We are ready for the war,” he said, with just a degree of exaggeration. ‘Second place in Tour of Flanders is a result of a long period of work, preparing for it and helping Pozzato recover after the crash in Qatar. This shows that our team is really strong for the northern Classics, and is the first important result for us.

“Now we want to do something special, since Pippo has the quality to win".

Boonen has himself named the Italian as one of his top rivals but, like BMC Racing Team captain Alessandro Ballan, Pozzato’s sprint normally isn’t as fast as that of the Belgian. He found that out last week when Boonen outsprinted him at the finish of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Pozzato had three chances to attack when Boonen brought Ballan back three times inside the final kilometres; he hesitated, though, trusting that he could take his rival in the sprint.

He couldn’t. As a result, he knows that he needs to get clear of him tomorrow before the famous velodrome. If he can do that, he will have a chance to finally win one of the most prestigious races in cycling, and to emulate Franco Ballerini.

Farnese Vini – Selle Italia for Paris-Roubaix:

Filippo Pozzato, Oscar Gatto, Leonardo Giordani, Luca Ascani, Cristian Benenati, Roberto De Patre, Kevin Hulsmans and Thomas Bertolini.


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